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Exploring factors that might influence primary-care provider discussion of and recommendation for prostate and colon cancer screening

Authors Kistler CE, Vu M, Sutkowi-Hemstreet A, Gizlice Z, Harris RP, Brewer NT, Lewis CL, Dolor RJ, Barclay C, Sheridan SL

Received 12 October 2017

Accepted for publication 23 January 2018

Published 17 May 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 179—190

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S153887

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Christine E Kistler,1 Maihan Vu,2 Anne Sutkowi-Hemstreet,3 Ziya Gizlice,4 Russell P Harris,5 Noel T Brewer,6 Carmen L Lewis,7 Rowena J Dolor,8 Colleen Barclay,5 Stacey L Sheridan9

1Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, 2Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 3Napa County Office of Education, Napa, CA, 4Biostatistical Support Unit, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, 5Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research, 6Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 7Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, 8Division of General Internal Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, 9Reaching for High Value Care Team, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Background: Primary-care providers may contribute to the use of low-value cancer screening.
Objective: We sought to examine circumstances under which primary-care providers would discuss and recommend two types of cancer screening services across a spectrum of net benefit and other factors known to influence screening.
Patients and methods: This was a cross sectional survey of 126 primary-care providers in 24 primary-care clinics in the US. Participants completed surveys with two hypothetical screening scenarios for prostate or colorectal cancer (CRC). Patients in the scenarios varied by age and screening-request status. For each scenario, providers indicated whether they would discuss and recommend screening. Providers also reported on their screening attitudes and the influence of other factors known to affect screening (short patient visits, worry about lawsuits, clinical reminders/performance measures, and screening guidelines). We examined associations between providers’ attitudes and their screening recommendations for hypothetical 90-year-olds (the lowest-value screening).
Results: Providers reported they would discuss cancer screening more often than they would recommend it (P<0.001). More providers would discuss and recommend screening for CRC than prostate cancer (P<0.001), for younger than older patients (P<0.001), and when the patient requested it than when not (P<0.001). For a 90-year-old patient, every point increase in cancer-specific screening attitude increased the likelihood of a screening recommendation (30% for prostate cancer and 30% for CRC).
Discussion: While most providers’ reported practice patterns aligned with net benefit, some providers would discuss and recommend low-value cancer screening, particularly when faced with a patient request.
Conclusion: More work appears to be needed to help providers to discuss and recommend screening that aligns with value.

Keywords: cancer screening, older adults, decision making, low-value care, colon cancer, prostate cancer

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